Making the Most of Human Trafficking Awareness Month During a Global Pandemic

January 5, 2022

One thing I love about NCCASA is the way we work out and apply trauma-informed advocacy and education and that means when things are rough, we are encouraged to be gentle with ourselves and adjust. I feel this way about Human Trafficking Awareness Month (HTAM) occurring during a global pandemic, and all that that has brought with it. 

So how to bring a trauma-focused framework into January 2022? 

One way is practicing awareness of and making adjustments to information-overload, lessened “margin,” and the daily uncertainty that goes with a pandemic.  In that context, I share with you a few thoughts on ways to observe Human Trafficking Awareness Month.


Screen Out the Noise

Resist the pressure that “doing anti-trafficking work” is always being hyper-focused on what all the other organizations are doing. We are not in competition with one another and don’t have to “keep up,” or duplicate others’ work. We can choose quality and evidence-informed resources and training opportunities for ourselves that promotes learning that will most benefit survivors. 

Unfortunately a lot of “noise” that needs screening out includes popular information about human trafficking that is simplistic, sensational, and excludes marginalized survivors whose needs are not acknowledged. Instead, we can look to trusted organizations and nonprofits that do quality,  peer-reviewed work with integrity. (See below for some resources.)


Choose Impact over Outputs

Focus on what will help you and others in your community better identify and serve survivors of human trafficking. You can choose how you will engage on social media in a way that will be most effective in your community. One thoughtful but simple social media post or community presentation combined with information about your services and referral process can go much  further than resharing posts that do not relate to your community’s culture or needs. 

Remember: you can be extremely effective with a single presentation to a smaller but strategic group, especially with follow up and an ongoing relationship. 


(Re)Center Survivors

We can get off track when we are influenced by those whose anti-human trafficking work does not represent ALL survivors. We can get off track when we compete with one another and  promote ourselves. And it may sound ironic, but we forget survivors when we believe it is all up to us to “save” them. We can also forget that survivors are already in the work of human trafficking advocacy and leadership without others’ acknowledgement of their survivor status. We can forget survivors when we don’t listen to learn, but only dictate to and patronize. 

We can “re-center” survivors in the work by having a discussion among all or some staff about what this means in your organization. Review the Policy/Advocacy briefs by the  National Survivor Network as survivor-led guidance in your work.


Build through Relationships

We continue to feel the impact of isolation from this global pandemic and the fallout from an intensely polarized country, which has challenged our personal and work relationships.  Much has changed in our culture, but the fact remains that human connection is a felt need and is vital for promoting cultures of healing in our communities. Finding ways to build safe, supportive relationships among other service providers and stakeholders will improve our service provision to survivors. Collaboration isn’t just a word in a mission statement or grant application and it doesn’t require a grant or an MOU to get a cup of coffee with someone.

It can feel challenging to prioritize it if we are always operating in crisis, but I can promise that proactive relationship building will prove its worth over time. We can choose one or two people to reach out to this month as a great way to observe Human Trafficking Awareness Month.


Below is a very short list of excellent resources that will help you in your work as we observe Human Trafficking Awareness Month. You can use them in your own organization, or share them with others.


Blog post by Courtney Dunkerton, NCCASA Anti-Human Trafficking Specialist